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Long-Run Impacts of Unions on Firms: New Evidence from Financial Markets, 1961-1999

  • David S. Lee

    (Princeton University and NBER)

  • Alexandre Mas

    (University of California, Berkeley and NBER)

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    We estimate the effect of new unionization on firms’ equity value over the 1961-1999 period using a newly assembled sample of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation elections matched to stock market data. Event-study estimates show an average union effect on the equity value of the firm equivalent to a cost of at least $40,500 per unionized worker. At the same time, point estimates from a regression-discontinuity design comparing the stock market impact of close union election wins to close losses are considerably smaller and close to zero. We find a negative relationship between the cumulative abnormal returns and the vote share in support of the union, allowing us to reconcile these seemingly contradictory findings. Using the magnitudes from the analysis, we calibrate a structural median voter model of endogenous union determination in order to conduct counterfactual policy simulations of policies that would marginally increase the ease of unionization.

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    File URL: http://www.princeton.edu/ceps/workingpapers/182lee.pdf
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    Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 1136.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:pri:cepsud:182lee
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    12. James T. Bennett & Bruce E. Kaufman, 2004. "What Do Unions Do?: A Twenty-Year Perspective," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 339-350, July.
    13. Farber, Henry S, 1978. "Individual Preferences and Union Wage Determination: The Case of the United Mine Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 923-42, October.
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    16. Steven G. Allen, 1985. "The Effect of Unionism on Productivity in Privately and Publicly Owned Hospitals and Nursing Homes," NBER Working Papers 1649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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